Veteran actress Viola Davis is responding to the backlash and critics her latest box office film The Woman King received during its opening weekend.
In a conversation with Variety, Davis, who also stars in the film as Nanisca, a general who trains the next generation of warriors to fight their enemies in an effort to protect the West African kingdom of Dahomey during the 17th to 19th centuries, reacted to the #BoycottWomanKing that trended on Twitter.
For additional context, the hashtag was created for people who didn’t feel like the film addressed the Dahomey Kingdom’s involvement in the slave trade.
“I agree with Gina Prince-Bythewood’s saying is you’re not going to win an argument on Twitter. We entered the story where the kingdom was in flux, at a crossroads,” the Oscar-winning actress shared. “They were looking to find some way to keep their civilization and kingdom alive. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that they were decimated. Most of the story is fictionalized. It has to be.”
Davis’ husband and producing partner on the film, Julius Tennon, was also a part of the conversation and also shared his opinion on the negative social media reactions.
“We are now what we call “edu-tainment.” It’s history but we have to take license. We have to entertain people. If we just told a history lesson, which we very well could have, that would be a documentary,” he added. “Unfortunately, people wouldn’t be in the theaters doing the same thing we saw this weekend. We didn’t want to shy away from the truth. The history is massive and there are truths on that, that are there. If people want to learn more, they can investigate more.”
The Woman King features a cast dark skin Black women with actresses like Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch and Shelia Atim at the forefront and debuted no. 1 at the box office, grossing $19 million domestically.
“I never doubted that “The Woman King” would land because it landed with me. It landed with Gina. It landed with Julius. It’s an undeniable, powerful story. The way we see numbers today is not the way we see the numbers. I think people have a tendency to say, we only represent a certain percentage of the box office,” Davis shared responding to box office numbers of the movie. “We know Black women. We know they’re going to bring people they work with, spouses and families, and come back five or six times during the weekend. We are in an industry that doesn’t see the power Black women have at the global box office.”
The Woman King is exclusively in movie theaters now!